The Buddhist Disciple Phra Sankachai

Date: ca. late 17th century

Culture: Thailand

Medium: Bronze with traces of gilt; eyes inlaid with shell and garnet

Dimensions: H. 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm); W. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); D. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Gifts of friends of Jim Thompson, in his memory, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.27


This is a much favored depiction of a famed Buddhist disciple, rotund and shaven, renowned for his gifts in teaching the dharma. He was introduced into later Southeast Asian Buddhism from China, where he is known as Budai. He has various hagiographies, but is widely understood as an incarnation of Maitreya, the Future Buddha. Popularly he is associated with contentment and prosperity.